GOOD

The Fact That Changed Everything: Bob Bates and Inner-City Arts

For Bates, students are not just a set of standardized testing scores to be monitored. Each child has a heart and mind with unlimited potential.


This content is brought to you by GOOD, with support from IBM. Click here to read more stories from The Fact That Changed Everything series and here to read about other Figures of Progress.

At 40, arts teacher Bob Bates was still unsure what to do with his life. The artistic director for Para Los Ninos, a Los Angeles non-profit that caters to at-risk youth, Bates took to meditation to find clarity.


While meditating in his downtown Los Angeles loft, he finally found his calling. “In the silence, I heard a man’s voice say very quietly, ‘Get an art space for kids,’” recalls Bates, “I thought at the time I couldn’t do it. Then I thought, wait a second what if this is really from God—from the Universe—who am I to go against that?”

That voice seemed to finally address years of Bates’ frustration about arts in schools. To Bates’ consternation, in the 1980s, public schools slashed much of their arts education budgets. Sadly, the bleeding hasn’t stopped yet: 29 percent of all California schools offer no study in any form of art at all.

A source or deep frustration, Bates struggled with how to accept the fact that many educators had turned their backs on teaching the arts. “The things we’re doing in our culture right now are not working. We’re not creating an environment that encourages creativity and growth. It’s rote memory learning, stuff like that. If you don’t give kids something that catches their passion, then how are they going to ever get interested in anything?” asks Bates, whose soft-spoken manner nevertheless conveys steely determination.

It was not until 1989 that Bates would realize his vision. Partnering with real estate developer Irwin Jaeger, the pair started Inner-City Arts, an immersive art education program that caters to high-risk youth in Los Angeles’s gritty Skid Row neighborhood.

At first, it was just Bates and Jaeger working behind the scenes. Inner-City Arts worked with just 60 kids and focused solely on visual arts, lacking funding to do more.

“Irv was the only provider of funding and I taught all the classes. It quickly became more than I could handle so Irv hired another artist, then another artist, then a bookkeeper. Little by little, we grew and grew.”


Today, Inner-City Arts sees between 300 to 450 children a day, five days a week. It has also expanded its programming to include ceramics, theater, dance and animation, taught by practicing professionals, from full-time artists to Disney "Imagineers."

About 10,000 K-12 students from some of the county’s most disadvantaged families pass through the nonprofit’s award-winning one-acre oasis.

Inner-City Arts doesn’t just win high marks with parents struggling to provide their children with better futures, it has also proven its mettle to the education community. A recent study conducted by the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies showed that when students study the arts, they also improve dramatically on math, reading and language. Children who participate actively in the program demonstrated an 18 percent increase in reading scores, 8 percent increase in English proficiency and 25 percent increase in mathematics.

For Bates, these numbers are important but aren’t anything compared to the satisfaction of opening young minds to bigger, better possibilities. “It’s all about getting young people to believe in themselves. To really track and follow their hearts and to use their minds as a tool to increase their ability to learn, grow and develop to the best of their abilities.”

Now 72, Bates continues to teach classes at Inner-City Arts, biking to work from his Montecito Heights home every day. As he walks the nonprofit’s white halls accented with the children’s colorful creations, he stops to greet young students by name every few minutes.

He reminds us, “You never know where the next genius is going to come along who will transform the world. We have the responsibility to all the students, all children. We take that really seriously. These kids maybe economically challenged, but they have minds, hearts, and potential that’s really unlimited.”

For Bates, the students are not just a set of standardized testing scores to be monitored. They are the bright lights seeking a place to shine.

Articles
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading
Health

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading
The Planet